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Zen in the Art of Writing Paperback – March, 1995

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Paperback, March, 1995
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the title suggests, science fiction master Bradbury occasionally sounds like a Zen sage ("You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you"), but for the most part these nine lightweight, zestful essays dispense the sort of shoptalk generally associated with writers' workshops. The title piece aims to help the aspiring writer navigate between the self-consciously literary and the calculatingly commercial. Other essays deal with discovering one's imaginative self; feeding one's muse; the germination of Bradbury's novel Dandelion Wine in his Illinois boyhood; a trip to Ireland; science fiction as a search for new modes of survival; and the author's stage adaptation of his classic novel Fahrenheit 451. Eight poems on creativity round out the volume; noteworthy are "Doing Is Being" and "We Have Our Arts So We Won't Die of Truth."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Famous science fiction author Bradbury here collects ten essays and eight poems from his past writings that illustrate his views on what a writer should do and be. Included are his reflections on the experience of writing, particularly the writing of such well-known works as Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine. Much autobiographical information is provided in this collection as well. As in his 500 short stories, novels, plays, and poems, Bradbury's warmth and cordiality will charm readers.
- Katherine Thorp, St. Louis Univ.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (March 1995)
  • ISBN-10: 9995521008
  • ISBN-13: 978-9995521004
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,848,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Mikesell on July 23, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This superb collection of essays by Ray Bradbury gives you an unfettered view of his writing technique. Equal parts brainstorming/word association and playing "What If," Bradbury's method of getting words on the page is deceptively simple. Fortunately, Bradbury also goes into detail about how to stock your supply cupboard with people and images and emotions so when the time comes to use them (or they come out to be used), you'll have them at hand. While the book is more geared to the art of short story writing, the overarching theme of writing with gusto works for novelists as well.

Bradbury admits to using the reference to Eastern philosophy as a hook to get readers (those accepting of it as well as those indignant at the notion, yet curious enough to find out what he's talking about). Ultimately, Bradbury doesn't advocate switching from Western to Eastern thought, nor are koans sprinkled throughout the book, but he does address coming to a point where you can work without laboring and achieving a state where your words flow from you and through you effortlessly. In this way of becoming one with the universes of your creation, Bradbury is certainly a Master.

The one area where the book falls short, though, is in handling the revision and editing of your work. It's all well and good to talk of writing with verve and gusto (and it is well and it is good to do so), but Bradbury doesn't explain how to look at it after the fact objectively and with a critical eye. Granted, this isn't a how-to primer, but the enthusiasm of writing the story can be all too easily quashed by rejection notices if what is written well isn't well-written.

Nevertheless, Bradbury's message is inspirational, and if his method has worked for him for 50+ years there's no doubt it can be a successful technique. Even if you come away from the this book without being prepared to follow in his footsteps, you will still be inspired to be passionate about your work.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. A. Loewen on May 14, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ray Bradbury's "Zen in the Art of Writing" was first released in 1990 and his views on the psychology, philosophy and purpose of writing are still relevant, captivating and enlightening. Much like Madeleine L'Engle's book "Walking on Water," highlighting the best parts is an exercise in futility as the aspiring writer would have to dip the entire book in yellow ink. Treasures wait on every page.
It is interesting to read Bradbury's book hand-in-hand with Stephen King's "On Writing." Both books appeal to the intuitive writer as contrasted with the methodical writer, both author's love their craft and their audience, and both books are refreshingly honest. However, as King is a garrulous, yet beloved Dutch uncle, Bradbury is the writer's Delphic oracle.
If the writer-[beginner] is not inspired to write after reading this short, but valuable book, maybe he had best seek another line of work.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an excellent piece from an excellent writer. For any would-be writer, this is an exceptional guide that will teach the basics of the creative writing process. Bradbury emphasizing writing by a method of free-association. He discourages writing that conforms to popular beliefs of society. He says that writing to please others is a great fault of many authors. One should write about his own interests and hates, this will strike passion in writing, which is a key ingrediant to success in the field. He explains that excellent writing ideas spring from the subconscious mind, or muse as Bradbury puts it. One must learn how to find his muse, feed his muse, and keep his muse...To effectively capture Bradbury's powerful message, one should read this piece of excellence him/herself.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By William Hammett on May 18, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having taught writing for twenty years, publishing four novels along the way, I regard this as the bible on the craft of writing. Bradbury's advice to have fun and let one's fingers play across the keyboard, letting enthusiasm and a love of words govern the composing process, cuts through the the tedious, mind-numbing literary algorithms of writing seminars and classes.

I suppose it's legitimate to discuss aspects of writing such as characterization, pacing, plot arc, and backstory ... if one is a lit major. There's a time and a place for everything saith the Book of Ecclesiastes, but I'm not at all convinced that the classroom teaches one to write well. I have never heard a lecture on narrative technique that didn't help me catch up on sleep. Worse yet, writing seminars usually pair you with a peer critic who knows less than you do, causing you to revise a decent piece of writing to satisfy Muffy from Vassar. Like Stephen King said in ON WRITING, if you want to be a writer, "read a lot and write a lot." To which I say, "Amen and amen."

No one can really teach anyone else how to write, and that's what makes this book such a refreshing change from the how-to books in the writing section at B&N. Bradbury wants you to love the craft, advising that whatever is good and possible in writing will flow from the springs of passion and the desire to create. Aspiring writers sit down with much angst, trying to juggle rules of composition in their minds as they begin a story. Once a story is in progress, there is constant self-editing and critiquing instead of writing the story. Bradbury's dictum is to unfocus, as it were (hence the "zen"), and let ideas slam the page "like a lightning bolt." Find a character, he says, and "shoot him off.
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